Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields:
Florida, Northern Tampa area
© 2002, © 2012 by Paul Freeman. Revised 12/26/12.
Please consider a financial contribution to support the continued growth & operation of this site.
Brooksville Airport (revised 12/5/09) - Bushnell AAF (revised 1/15/11)
Hillsbororough AAF / Henderson AAF (revised 12/26/12) - Lakeland Municpal / Lodwick Field (revised 1/15/11)
Torii Field (added 5/28/12) - West Pasco Airpark / Tampa Bay Executive Airport (revised 4/9/12) - Withlacoochee AAF (revised 10/24/09)
Torii Field, Trinity, FL
28.14 North / 82.67 West (Northwest of Tampa, FL)
Torii Field, as depicted on the 1974 USGS topo map.
This small general aviation airfield was evidently established at some point between 1948-74,
as it was not yet depicted on the 1948 USGS topo map.
The earliest depiction which has been located of Torii Field was on the 1974 USGS topo map.
It described a single paved north/south runway, labeled simply as “Landing Strip”.
NTSB accident records indicate aviation activity at Torii Field in 1975, 1977, and 1982.
The only photo which has been located showing Torii Field in operation was a 1982 aerial view,
which showed 3 single-engine aircraft parked west of the runway.
The runway appeared to have been paved, but was somewhat deteriorated by 1982.
The earliest photo which is available of Torii Field was a 1/27/95 USGS aerial view looking southwest.
While still remaining mostly intact, the field appeared to already have been abandoned, and the runway was deteriorated.
A 4/5/10 aerial view looking southwest at Torii Field showed the runway remained somewhat recognizable,
although several buildings were located on top of it.
The site of Torii Field is located west of the intersection of Lora Lane & Fletch Haven Drive.
Brooksville Airport, Brooksville, FL
28.55 North / 82.38 West (North of Tampa, FL)
Brooksville Airport, as depicted on the 1935 Orlando Sectional Chart.
The date of construction of this general aviation airport has not been determined.
The earliest reference to the Brooksville Airport which has been located
was in The Airport Directory Company's 1933 Airport Directory (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).
It described Brooksville as a commercial field, consisting of a 40-acre sod field,
with two runways in a cross shape: 1,900' east/west & 1,350' north/south.
The earliest depiction of the Brooksville Airport which has been located was on the 1935 Orlando Sectional Chart.
It depicted Brooksville as a commercial/municipal airport.
Brooksville Airport, as depicted on the 1936 Official Airway Map of Florida (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).
An aerial view looking northwest at Brooksville Airport,
from The Airport Directory Company's 1938 Airport Directory (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).
The directory described Brooksville as a municipal airport,
consisting of a irregularly-shaped 40-acre sod field,
with 2 runways: 2,000' east/west & 1,200' north/south.
The last chart depiction which has been located of the Brooksville Airport
was on the July 1943 Orlando Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).
It depicted Brooksville as a municipal/commercial airport.
In a 1944 aerial photo (from the UFL Photo Library, via Chris Kennedy),
the two grass runways of Brooksville Airport were quite evident, along with a airport circle marking.
A single small building along the southwest corner of the field may have been related to the airport.
The Brooksville Airport evidently was abandoned at some point between 1943-44,
as it was no longer depicted at all on the February 1944 Orlando Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).
It was presumably replaced by the much-larger Brooksville Army Airfield (northwest of the town), once that field became available for civilian reuse.
The original Brooksville Airport on the southeast side of town was no longer depicted on the 1955 USGS topo map.
In the 1999 USGS aerial view, no trace appeared to remain of the former Brooksville Airport.
Route 98 had been constructed over the southwest corner of the site.
As seen in the 2004 USGS aerial view, no trace appears to remain of the former Brooksville Airport.
The site of Brooksville Airport is located northeast of the intersection of Route 98 & Continental Drive.
West Pasco Airpark / Tampa Bay Executive Airport (3FD1), New Port Richey, FL
28.19 North / 82.63 West (North of Tampa, FL)
West Pasco Airpark, as depicted on the April 1971 Jacksonville Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).
The date of construction of this general aviation airport has not been determined.
It may have been established at some point between 1967-69,
as it was not yet depicted on the 1955 USGS topo map,
nor listed in the 1967 AOPA Airport Directory (according to Chris Kennedy).
The earliest depiction of the field which has been located was a 1969 aerial photo.
It depicted West Pasco Airpark as having 2 grass runways, with 3 single-engine aircraft parked near a hangar on the northeast side.
The earliest aeronautical chart depiction of the field which has been located
was on the April 1971 Jacksonville Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).
It described West Pasco as having a 3,000' unpaved runway.
The 1977 USGS topo map depicted West Pasco Airpark as having 2 runways,
oriented northeast/southwest & northwest/southeast.
The January 1977 CH-25 Wordl Aeronautical Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)
depicted West Pasco as having a 3,200' unpaved runway.
In addition to its 3,200' grass runway,
West Pasco evidently gained a new 5,000' paved runway (running parallel to the original grass runway, to the north) at some point between 1977-79,
as that is how it was depicted in the 1979 Flight Guide (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).
The crosswind northwest/southeast runway had apparently been abandoned.
A parallel taxiway & a ramp were depicted on the north side of the paved runway.
Joe Purcell recalled, “West Pasco Airpark... I took my first flying lesson here in 1979.”
The 1982 AOPA Airport Directory (courtesy of Ed Drury)
described the West Pasco Airport as having a single 5,000' asphalt Runway 8/26.
The original northeast/southwest grass runway had apparently been abandoned.
The operators were listed as Flying Aero and Ed Silvernell & Sons Inc.
A 1982 aerial photo depicted West Pasco as a very healthy little airport,
with a paved runway, numerous hangars, and dozens of light aircraft.
According to an article in the 5/12/04 issue of the St Petersburg Times,
Lew Friedland (owner of Seven Eagles Inc.) purchased the airport in 1985.
Hangars & a new building were added, and the runway was widened a bit.
The 1990 USGS topo map depicted West Pasco Airpark as having a single runway, oriented northeast/southwest.
A parallel taxiway on the northwest side led to a total of five hangars on the north side of the field.
At some point between 1999-98,
the field was apparently renamed "Tampa Bay Executive Airport",
as that is how it was labeled on the 1998 Sectional Chart.
In the 1999 USGS aerial view, a total of nine buildings (hangars) were visible on the ramp on the north side of the field,
as well as a good number of aircraft.
However, things for this well-used airport started to go downhill.
By 2001, the Tampa Bay Executive had officially changed to a private airfield,
although it essentially continued to function as a public-use airport.
Julie DeStefano reported in 2001, "This is a vital airport for general aviation in the northern Pinellas/Pasco region.
Pilots who use this facility are often charmed by its laid back, friendly atmosphere.
Now, this airport is at risk of closure and may be taken from the 100+ base customers who have enjoyed it for years.
It's a shame."
The airport teetered on the brink of closure when it lost is liability insurance
in the aftermath of the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks,
but insurance was obtained again.
In the 2002 USGS aerial view, quite a few elements of the former airport still remained:
A closeup of the 2002 USGS aerial view, showing over two-dozen aircraft parked at Tampa Bay Executive.
William LeFebvre reported in 2004, "Sadly, this airport is closing on October 1 of 2004.
This is a great airport with a good location. I've flown in here several times. It will be missed."
An article in the 5/12/04 issue of the St Petersburg Times reported on the plans for the airport's closure.
Airport owner Lew Friedland says the airport will close on October 1 2004
and he is already talking to potential buyers of the 75-acre property on the fast growing State Road 54 corridor.
Friedland is president of Seven Eagles Inc.,
which owns Tampa Bay Executive & is an affiliate of the companies developing Trinity Communities.
The move, although long expected, was a shock to many in the community
and left county leaders wondering how it will affect the area.
Tampa Bay Executive was home to 100 aircraft, including a Bayflite medevac helicopter.
On Tuesday, County Commissioner Peter Altman suggested creating a "citizens task force"
to review the impact of the airport closure, particularly to Bayflite's air ambulance service.
The panel could also consider the possibility of building a new airport, Altman said.
But in a county where vacant land easily goes for $40,000 an acre,
Commissioner Steve Simon said, a 300-acre airport site could cost $12-million.
"While I feel for the private plane owner... I don't think the county's responsibility is to provide a facility for that," he said.
Airport owner Lew Friedland said "We do have some folks who are genuinely interested in the property,"
although "nobody's talking about building another airport."
Fast-paced residential growth surrounding Tampa Bay Executive
and road widenings posed challenges for the airport.
"Everybody knew it was going to close," said Friedland, who has run the business for 19 years.
About 30 people work at the airport.
Pasco's building boom was a bust for Tampa Bay Executive.
Residential growth surrounding the airport now overwhelms it.
The widening of State Road 54 will bring vehicle traffic to the airport's doorstep -
posing a liability risk that Friedland said he does not want to take.
"I'm just kinda sick and tired of being in a business with so many potential lawsuits," he said Tuesday.
Tampa Bay Executive faced several suits & saw a number of "heartbreaking" crashes & accidents over the years.
Friedland said he wanted to close before SR 54 was widened
and we "felt like that gave everybody time to find new headquarters for their planes."
He is working on an agreement to keep Bayflite at the airport,
noting it does not need a runway, merely a helicopter pad & an office.
Other departments, such as "the mechanical shop and the flight school
are moving their operations to other airports in Pasco County," Friedland said.
In the 2004 Airport/Facility Directory listing,
Tampa Bay Executive Airport was described as having a single 5,000' asphalt Runway 8/26.
However, the runway was a mere 48' wide,
which was apparently a serious limitation preventing the use of this airfield by business jets.
Although a length of 5,000' is quite sufficient for most light jets,
most runways of that length would typically be at least 100' wide.
The field's owner was listed as Seven Eagles Inc.,
and the manager was listed as Anita Brink.
Jensen Aviation conducted flight training from the field.
A total of 108 aircraft were listed at being based on the field, including 11 multi-engine aircraft & 2 helicopters.
The field was said to conduct an average of 233 takeoffs or landings per day,
which would make the field extremely well used.
As pilots, how can we allow an airport which conducts over 80,000 takeoffs/landings per year to be lost?
A 2005 photo by Charlie Helms looking along the runway at the former Tampa Bay Executive Airport,
with closed-runway “X” symbols visible.
A 2005 photo by Charlie Helms, showing former hangars at the former Tampa Bay Executive Airport
in the process of being disassembled, with the walls having already been removed.
A circa 2006-2007 aerial view looking east at the site of Tampa Bay Executive Airport,
showing several of the hangars still remaining.
A circa 2006-2007 aerial view looking north at the hangars which remained at that point at the site of Tampa Bay Executive Airport.
Paul Freeman flew over the site of the former Tampa Bay Executive Airport in April 2007.
All of the hangars & other buildings had been removed, but the former runways, taxiways, and ramps remained intact.
A 4/1/12 photo by Joe Purcell of “what is left of West Pasco Airpark... maybe about 400' of runway.
The rest is being developed as Trinity Corporate Park.”
Tampa Bay Executive Airport is located south of the intersection of Route 54 & Success Drive.
Lakeland Municipal Airport / Lodwick Field, Lakeland, FL
28.07 North / 81.95 West (East of Tampa, FL)
What was originally known as "Lakeland" Airport, as depicted on the 1935 Orlando Sectional Chart.
By the 1930s, Lakeland's Haldeman-Elder Field (southeast of the city) was proving inadequate to meet the city's needs.
In late 1933 & early 1934, the city acquired several parcels of land between Lakeland Hills Boulevard & Lake Parker
and applied for funds from the Civil Works Administration to build a new airport.
The funds were approved & construction begun in early 1934.
The airport was dedicated as Lakeland Municipal Airport in 1935.
The earliest depiction which has been located of the Lakeland Airport
was on the 1935 Orlando Sectional Chart.
A 1936 photo of an "Air School" class (funded by the Works Progress Administration)
posing in front of a hangar at Lakeland Municipal Airport.
A 1937 photo of a Beech Staggerwing & several other planes in front of a hangar at Lakeland Municipal Airport.
A 1937 photo of a National Airlines Lockheed Model 10 Electra parked in front of a hangar at Lakeland Municipal Airport.
A 1937 photo of transatlantic flyer Clarence Chamberlain's Curtiss Condor biplane, at the Lakeland Municipal Airport.
An aerial view looking south at Lakeland Municipal Airport,
from the Airport Directory Company's 1937 Airports Directory (courtesy of Bob Rambo).
The layout of Lakeland Municipal Airport,
from the Airport Directory Company's 1937 Airports Directory (courtesy of Bob Rambo).
The directory described Lakeland Municipal Airport as having two paved runways (with the longest being the 2,496' north/south strip)
and two sod runways.
A dock & seaplane ramp were adjacent to the west side of the field, on the shore of Lake Parker.
The manager was listed as Charles Bentley.
A November 1938 photo of Army Air Corps Lt. Coleman Hinton's Northrop A-17A at Lakeland Municipal Airport.
An undated photo of cadets & instructors walking off the Lodwick flight line, with Stearman trainers in the background.
Del Harding reported that, in 1940, "My grandfather E.J. Sias moved the Lincoln Airplane & Flying School
flight ops [from Lincoln NE] to Lakeland because of its better flying weather.
When he found it difficult to commute between Lincoln & Lakeland,
he sold the flight ops business to [Albert] Lodwick,
who had not previously been associated with the school in any way."
Harding further reported that the Lakeland Public Library's web site's assertion
that Lodwick moved 'his' flight school from Lincoln to Lakeland is incorrect.
Albert Lodwick purchased the flight school, he renamed it Lakeland School of Aeronautics,
later the Lodwick School of Aeronautics,
and established its headquarters at leased facilities at the Lakeland Municipal Airport.
A year later he established the Lodwick Aviation Military Academy in nearby Avon Park, FL.
Both schools were civilian operations under contract to the Army
to provide primary flight training to Army Air Force cadets.
A 1940 photo of an Army mule in front of a hangar at Lakeland, during construction (courtesy of David Brooks).
A late-1940 aerial view looking northwest at Lakeland Municipal Airport,
showing the significantly expanded airport configuration (courtesy of David Brooks).
A September 1943 photo of a Douglas P-70 night fighter completing a flyover of the Lodwick School of Aeronautics.
The P-70 was most likely part of a squadron from Orlando used to train pilots in night-fighting tactics.
The 1944 US Army/Navy Directory of Airfields (courtesy of Ken Mercer)
described "Lakeland Municipal #1" as having a 3,500' hard-surface runway,
and indicated that Army flight operations were conducted from the field.
An undated photo of a group of British cadets spelling out the letters "RAF" at the Lodwick School of Aeronautics.
An undated (circa 1940s) photo of several biplanes next to Lodwick Field's control tower.
During its nearly 5 years of existence,
the Lodwick School of Aeronautics admitted more than 8,000 cadets (including British Royal Air Force cadets),
graduating more than 6,000.
The Lodwick School of Aeronautics closed in August, 1945.
An undated photo of a military C-47 being converted to civilian use at Lodwick Aircraft Industries.
Lodwick wasted little time in converting his war time operation into a peacetime industry.
He incorporated Lodwick Aircraft Industries in February, 1946.
The new company engaged in the business of converting war surplus military aircraft to commercial use
and contracted with the War Assets Administration to sell war surplus aviation parts & equipment.
The City Commission honored Lodwick's service to the country by renaming the airport Al Lodwick Field in 1948.
An April 1952 aerial view of Lakeland Municipal Airport.
US Government photo, courtesy of FL DOT, via Brian Rehwinkel.
The photo depicted Lakeland Municipal as having 4 paved runways,
along with a paved taxiway leading to 3 arched-roof hangars on the south side of the field.
The buildings formerly used to house the Lodwick School of Aeronautics
were adjacent to the east side of the hangars.
If you look very closely at the aerial photo,
you can even see a plane on the northwest/southeast runway.
Lodwick Aircraft Industries foundered after some early success.
The number of military aircraft available for conversion to commercial use dwindled
and most of the surplus parts & equipment it contracted to sell were obsolete & had no market.
By 1954 the company was moribund.
It had lost most of its assets in a bank foreclosure & ceased operations in September.
The Municipal Airport continued to be used by the city for several more years,
but gradually more & more of the complex was converted for use as the spring training home of the Detroit Tigers.
By the summer of 1957, the city had decided to phase out Lodwick Field as an airport
and concentrate its resources on Drane Field in south Lakeland
(what eventually became today's Lakeland Linder Regional Airport).
Lodwick Field was still depicted as an active airfield on the August 1957 Orlando Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy),
and was described as having a 3,500' hard-surface runway.
Lodwick Field was evidently closed at some point between 1957-60,
as it was no longer listed among active airfields in the 1960 Jeppesen Airway Manual (according to Chris Kennedy)
and was no longer depicted on the 1962 USGS topo map.
By the time of the April 1964 Orlando Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy),
the former Lodwick Field was depicted as "Abandoned airport".
A note about some of the above photos:
The Lodwick School of Aeronautics & Lodwick Aircraft Industries
had been housed in a building leased from the City of Lakeland.
When the latter company went out of business in the early 1950's,
Lodwick apparently left behind a cache of photographic prints & negatives
which he had collected during his long career in the aviation industry.
After Lodwick's departure, the site became the spring training headquarters of the Detroit Tigers baseball team.
The photos remained undisturbed until discovered in 1988
by Lakeland city workers preparing to raze the building which housed them.
At this point the Albert Lodwick Photograph Collection
was transferred to the Special Collections unit of the Lakeland Public Library.
In the 1999 USGS aerial view, quite a few elements of the former airport still remained:
the three arched-roof hangars, as well as the paved taxiway leading away from the hangars toward the north,
and even the outline of a portion of the northeast/southwest runway (visible on either side of the baseball stadium).
A closeup from the 1999 USGS aerial photo of the three arched-roof hangars which remain at the site of Lodwick Field.
A portion of the airport site is now Tiger Town, the modern spring training complex of the Detroit Tigers,
with Joker Merchant Stadium occupying part of the site.
A circa 2000-2005 aerial view looking south at the 3 remaining former hangars at the site of Lodwick Field.
Ken Webb pointed out in 2003 that 3 hangars from Lodwick Field remained standing,
"where the city holds various events & stores equipment.
The hangars are in pretty good shape."
Other current occupants of the site of the former airfield (in addition to the stadium)
include a car dealership (Regal Pontiac), a nursing home, and fire training complex.
The site of Lodwick Field is located north of the intersection of East Bella Vista Street & North Lake Avenue.
Thanks to Don Emerson & Ken Webb for pointing out this airfield.
Bushnell Army Airfield, Bushnell, FL
28.68 North / 82.09 West (West of Orlando, FL)
A 1/6/44 aerial view from the 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock)
depicted “Bushnell AAF” as having 2 runways.
The Bushnell Army Airfield was acquired by lease from various owners beginning in 1940.
The airfield was constructed the by the 841st Aviation Engineers Battalion in 1943.
According to an Army Corps of Engineers report,
Bushnell was used extensively in chemical warfare trials.
In 1943 the Dugway Proving Ground Mobile Chemical Warfare Service Unit
arrived at Bushnell AAF to begin experiments on non-persistent chemical agents,
setting up the Chemical Warfare Service Experimental Station.
The airfield was used by the Dugway Proving Ground Mobile CWS Unit
as a landing strip for the planes used in the field trials at Withlacoochee Bombing & Gunnery Range
(which also had its own airfield, Withlacoochee AAF).
According to other sources, Bushnell was also used by B-17s from Brooksville AAF, B-25s from Montbrook AAF,
P-47s from Cross City AAF, P-38s from Lakeland AAF, and B-26s from Tampa.
In 1943, Bushnell AAF was called a "T/O training field,
supporting the main base of the AAF School of Applied Tactics at Orlando".
It was classed as a temporary field on standby basis in 1944.
The earliest depiction which has been located of Bushnell AAF was a 1/6/44 aerial view
from the 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock).
It depicted 2 runways not located adjacent to each other: the “Bomber runway” to the southwest
and a smaller “Fighter runway” to the northeast.
A portion of a 1944 Sectional Chart (courtesy of B Widner),
depicting Bushnell AAF at the top, and Withlacoochee AAF, ("Danger Area") at the bottom.
The 1944 US Army/Navy Directory of Airfields (courtesy of Ken Mercer)
described Bushnell AAF as having a 6,000' hard-surface runway.
The 1945 Airport Directory For Continental US described the airfield as 1,480 acres total area
having no radio facilities, no gasoline, and no hangars.
Bushnell AAF had two runways: a 4,000' NNE/SSW steel plank landing mat runway
and a 6,000' NE/SW rod & bar landing mat runway with limerock base.
The 6,000' runway was known as the "bomber runway",
while the 4,000' strip was known as the "fighter runway".
An aircraft parking area was apparently located at the southwest end of the bomber runway.
The 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock) described “Bushnell AAF”
as a 1,480 acre irregularly-shaped field having 2 runways: a 6,000' rod & bar northeast/southwest strip,
and a 4,000' steel plank NNE/SSW strip.
The field was not said to have any hangars, to be owned by the U.S. Government, and operated by the Army Air Forces.
"Bushnell (Aux) AAF", as depicted on the 1945 Orlando Sectional Chart (courtesy of John Voss).
Bushnell AAF was closed in 1945.
At the end of the war, the 20,000 steel mats which had made up the 2 runways at Bushnell were sold for scrap,
but many found new life as miles of fences scattered across west-central Florida.
The Bushnell AAF property was certified to the War Assets Administration for disposal in 1946.
The lands reverted to the owners & most land was put back into agricultural use.
A May 15 1951 US Government aerial photo of the Bushnell "Fighter Field"
(courtesy of the FL DOT, via Brian Rehwinkel).
Aerial photos of both the Bushnell Bomber & Fighter Fields from 1951
appeared to depicted them both as completely abandoned,
supporting the contention that they were never reused as civilian airfields.
A 1952 Army Corps of Engineers aerial photo of Bushnell AAF,
showing the "bomber runway" at the lower-left & the "fighter runway" at the upper-right.
A February 17 1953 US Government aerial photo of the Bushnell "Bomber Field"
(courtesy of the FL DOT, via Brian Rehwinkel).
No airfield was depicted in Bushnell on the 1955 USGS topo map.
A 1998 USGS aerial photo of the former "fighter runway",
the outline of which is barely still apparent, running north from the bottom-center.
A 2002 aerial view looking northeast along the remains of the former "bomber runway" at Bushnell AAF
(the diagonal outline running toward the top-left).
No airfield at all was depicted at the location on USGS topo maps from 1958 or 1977.
The chemical warfare activities conducted at Bushnell in WW2
have caused it to be the site of environmental cleanup investigations in 2001.
Today the areas of the 2 former airfields are still largely undeveloped,
with some houses scattered around the area.
The outline of the former fighter & bomber runways are still barely apparent in aerial photos,
if you know just where to look.
There does not appear to be any remains of any airfield buildings.
The site of Bushnell AAF is located northeast of the intersection of Route 301 & Walker Avenue,
one mile northeast of the town of Bushnell.
Thanks to Bob Widner & Matt Mattson for pointing out this airfield.
See also: http://www.geocities.com/bwidner1/Bush2.jpg
Withlacoochee Army Airfield, Lacoochee, FL
28.49 North / 82.04 West (West of Orlando, FL)
A portion of a 1944 Sectional Chart (courtesy of B Widner)
depicting Withlacoochee AAF, ("Danger Area") at the bottom.
The date of construction of the Witchlacoochee airfield is unknown.
Withlacoochee AAF was used during WW2 in conjunction with Bushnell AAF as a testing site for chemical weapons.
The 1944 & 1945 Sectional Charts labeled the site of the Witchlacoochee airfield as a "Danger Area",
but did not depict an airfield there.
It was not listed among active airfields in the 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock).
The date of closure of Witchlacoochee AAF is unknown,
but is was presumably abandoned at the end of WW2.
A May 6 1951 USDA aerial photo of Withlacoochee AAF (courtesy of the FL DOT, via Brian Rehwinkel)
the field didn't show any signs of current use, but appeared abandoned already.
The Withlachoochee airfield was no longer depicted on the 1955 USGS topo map.
The Withlachoochee AAF site has been the subject of several cleanup efforts
aimed at removing any remaining traces of the chemical weapons previously tested at the site.
It is not known if the field was ever reused for civil aviation,
but that is unlikely, given the possible continued presence of chemical weapons.
The 1960 USGS topo map depicted Witchlacoochee as having a single unpaved runway, labeled "Landing Field (Abandoned)".
Cole Coon recalled, “I spent many hours hunting in the Withalacoochee State forest when I was a boy.
As late as 1968-71, we had friends land Cessna 172s on the grass strip & spend the day hunting,
or sometimes people would go for rides in the airplane.”
The airfield was depicted on the 1977 USGS topo map, labeled "Landing Strip (Abandoned)".
The airfield was no longer depicted at all (even as an abandoned airfield) on the 1998 World Aeronautical Chart.
In the 1999 USGS aerial photo,
the airfield consisted of a single 3,400' runway (which was apparently paved, as it remains clear of trees).
There were no remaining signs of any buildings or hangars.
Cole Coon recalled, “When I visited in summer 2003, the field was mostly overgrown with small pine trees,
except a small (500'?) area at the south end that was being regularly mowed.”
A 2004 photo by Daryl Naskale of the Withlachoochee airfield, from the northeast end of the strip looking southwest.
Daryl reported, “"The strip is covered with a thick layer of grass that is being mowed at least semi-regularly,
probably by the State Forest people.
There is an active state-run fish hatchery right nearby that can be seen in the [aerial] photos.
If there ever was a paved runway, it is covered with enough dirt to support a thick layer of grass & weeds.”
A May 8, 2007 USGS aerial view looking northeast along the abandoned Witchlacoochee runway.
The runway is located along the northwest side of North Grade Road,
one mile northeast of its intersection with Route 471.
Hillsbororough Army Airfield / Henderson Airport, Tampa, FL
28.05 North / 82.42 West (Northeast of Tampa International Airport, FL)
A 3/17/43 aerial view looking east from the 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock)
depicted “Hillsborough AAF” as having 3 asphalt runways.
Hillsborough AAF was evidently constructed at some point between 1935-43,
as it was not yet depicted on the 1935 Orlando Sectional Chart.
The earliest depiction which has been located of Hillsborough AAF
was a 3/17/43 aerial view looking east from the 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock).
It depicted “Hillsborough AAF” as having 3 asphalt runways.
The earliest aeronautical chart depiction which has been located of Hillsborough AAF
was on the July 1943 Orlando Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).
Hillsborough AAF was described in the 1944 US Army/Navy Directory of Airfields (courtesy of Ken Mercer)
as having a 5,000' hard-surface runway.
A 4/17/44 photo of P-51B-1-NA 43-12252 during a visit to Hillsborough AAF (courtesy of Martin Kyburz / Swiss Mustangs).
This field was used by the Army during WW2 as an auxiliary airfield for both Drew & MacDill Fields.
It had 3 paved 5,200' runways (NE/SW, NW/SE & E/W),
and several hangars along the west side of the airfield.
“Hillsborough AAF” was still depicted as an active airfield on the 1945 Miami Sectional Chart (courtesy of John Voss).
The 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock) described “Hillsborough AAF”
as a 2,135 acre irregularly-shaped field having 3 asphalt 5,000' runways.
The field was not said to have any hangars, to be owned by Hillsborough County, and operated by the Army Air Forces.
An article in the 1/27/02 Tampa Tribune (according to Brian Rehwinkel) described the WW2 field as being a small base.
Ansley Watson, the last base commander at Hillsborough AAF said the airfield had one hangar,
a control tower and a concrete building where fighters were parked.
Mr. Watson said the base normally had about 28 airplanes at the field at one time.
According to the article, the base closed in early 1945.
A January 15, 1948 USDA aerial photograph of Hillsborough AAF (courtesy of Brian Rehwinkel).
"Although the photo does not show any obvious activity at the field,
it does give an idea of the wartime configuration of the field.
You can still see some buildings at the field."
At some point after WW2, Hillsborough was reused as a civilian airport.
It was depicted as "Hillsborough" on the 1949 Orlando Sectional Chart (according to Chris Kennedy).
Strangely, "Hillsborough County" Airport was depicted as a private airfield
on the August 1954 Orlando Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).
It also became known as Henderson Field during its period of civilian usage.
Hillsborough / Henderson Field was evidently closed at some point between 1954-55,
as it was no longer depicted on the 1955 USGS topo map.
Jim Stahl recalled, “In 1957, kids were still using the runways for drag racing.
We used to go & watch them.
The police constantly tried to stop it.
They finally came in just prior to the brewerys being built
and dug trenches across the runways & that finally stopped the racing.”
A March 1957 aerial view of Henderson Airport (which appears to be abandoned at this point).
US Government photo, courtesy of the FL DOT, via Brian Rehwinkel.
It appears as if Henderson Airport had been abandoned by the time of the photo,
as all of the buildings had been removed from the airfield.
However, all of the runways still remained intact at this point,
along with several taxiways leading to a extensive number of dispersal hardstands.
According to Brian Rehwinkel, the University of South Florida campus began construction in 1957
on a site adjacent to the north side of Henderson Airport,
and the Busch Gardens theme park was opened in 1959 just south of the airport.
A 1959 view looking southwest at Henderson Field,
after the Busch Brewery (on the right) had been built over a portion of the former airfield.
Photo is from the Tamp Hillsborough County Public Library (courtesy of Joe Benson).
The site of the former Henderson Airport was labeled "Aband aprt"
on the 1964 Orlando Sectional Chart (according to Chris Kennedy).
A 1967 photo (courtesy of Lonnie Kobres) of Lonnie Kobres & 2 fellow model aircraft enthusiasts at Henderson Field,
where he learned to fly radio-controlled model aircraft.
A 1969 aerial photo showed the majority of 3 runways remained intact,
although buildings had started to cover portions of them.
The 1987 USGS topo map still depicted portions of several runways.
It was not depicted at all (even as an abandoned airfield) on aeronautical charts from the late 1990s.
A view toward the southeast end of the remains of the northwest/southeast runway at Henderson Field,
by Vince Hrabosky, 2003. Note the waterslide of Busch Gardens in the background.
Vince Hrabosky visited the site of Henderson Field in 2003,
"a place I've passed by many times & never knew what it was!
The main area where the runways cross is still nothing more than an overgrown field,
but it is fenced off with plenty of 'no trespassing' signs."
"This abandoned airfield is just a block north of Busch Gardens Theme park…
the area where I was able to stand on the runway has been cut in half by a fence -
the southernmost portion is now used as a training facility by Busch Gardens to instruct new drivers on some of their vehicles."
Danny Perez reported in 2004 that the building currently used as Mel's Hot Dogs restaurant
is housed in is the last surviving structure of Henderson Field.
Remarkably, more than 50 years after this airfield's closure & redevelopment,
the 2005 USGS aerial photo plainly shows the “X”-shaped runway intersection at the center of the photo.
Most of the area of the former airfield has been reused as an industrial park,
with rail lines going to the old Busch Brewery at the northwest corner of the former airfield.
It did not appear as if any original airport buildings remained standing.
The Busch Gardens theme park was built over the former airfield cantonment area, south of the airfield.
The site of Henderson Field is located north of Busch Gardens
and south of the University of South Florida Campus.
Thanks to Charles Schuttig, Brian Rehwinkel, and Joe Benson for information about this field.
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